The best books on adventure, healing, and growth

Who am I?

Jean Muenchrath wrote down her story to heal herself from the trauma of a life-threatening mountaineering accident, an epic survival incident, and decades of chronic pain. She then published her memoir to inspire readers to follow their dreams and to encourage them to overcome whatever challenges their life presents. Before she became an author, Muenchrath was a park ranger with the National Park Service for over thirty years. She’s led trekking tours in Nepal and Thailand and worked in Bhutan with the World Wildlife Fund. Jean enjoys traveling to foreign lands, exploring wild places and sitting quietly in meditation.


I wrote...

If I Live Until Morning, A True Story of Adventure, Tragedy and Transformation

By Jean Muenchrath,

Book cover of If I Live Until Morning, A True Story of Adventure, Tragedy and Transformation

What is my book about?

After skiing more than 200 miles along California's John Muir Trail, Jean faces death from a mountaineering accident on Mount Whitney. Broken and bleeding on the highest peak in the continental United States, she vows to realize her greatest dreams if she lives until morning. Her escape from the Sierra Nevada Mountains turns into an amazing five-day survival story. Jean's recovery is equally daunting. In this outdoor adventure memoir, her three-decade journey takes her from the depths of despair and chronic pain, to the heights of the Himalayas and on travels around the world. When the specter of Mount Whitney continues to shatter her life, Jean befriends Tibetan lamas. Their ancient wisdom guides her on a path beyond her wildest dreams.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness

Why did I love this book?

I like books that expand my horizons and offer meaningful insights about our world, the human condition and how to become our best selves. I loved how The Joy of Living offers a fresh perspective on how to live joyfully in the midst of turmoil. It’s one of the best books I’ve found geared to Westerners on how to meditate effectively and how to make a positive change to one’s life. Through sharing his personal struggles and his journey to overcome them, the author weaves modern day scientific explanations on the science of the mind with the wisdom of ancient Tibetan Buddhism. Readers are given a clear and concise understanding of the power of their own minds.

By Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Joy of Living as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For millennia, Buddhists have enjoyed the limitless benefits of meditation. But how does it work? And why? The principles behind this ancient practice have long eluded some of the best minds in modern science. Until now.

This groundbreaking work, with a foreword by bestselling author Daniel Goleman, invites us to join in unlocking the secrets behind the practice of meditation. Working with neuroscientists, the author provides clear insights into modern research, which indicates that systematic training in meditation can enhance activity in areas of the brain associated with happiness and compassion.

With an infectious joy and insatiable curiosity, Yongey Mingyur…


Book cover of Lands of Lost Borders: A Journey on the Silk Road

Why did I love this book?

This book really resonated with me—I could relate to the author’s struggles, her love for outdoor adventures and traveling through Asian landscapes and cultures. I admired Kate Harris’ tenacity. Her use of language painted pictures of places in my mind and made my emotions merge with hers. This book ignites the inspiration to follow one’s passions. As a female reader, I found it very empowering. Harris’ story takes readers on a modern journey along the silk road. It’s a story of two women’s friendship and their moxie to accomplish their goal of riding bicycles across Central Asia. Together they persevere through countless obstacles—heath issues, corrupt officials and daunting border crossings, to achieve their dream. Their travel challenges are interwoven with insights about how international borders shape the lives of those living on different sides of an often arbitrary line.

By Kate Harris,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Lands of Lost Borders as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Lands of Lost Borders carried me up into a state of openness and excitement I haven't felt for years. It's a modern classic."-Pico Iyer

A brilliant, fierce writer, and winner of the 2019 RBC Taylor Prize, makes her debut with this enthralling travelogue and memoir of her journey by bicycle along the Silk Road-an illuminating and thought-provoking fusion of The Places in Between, Lab Girl, and Wild that dares us to challenge the limits we place on ourselves and the natural world.

As a teenager, Kate Harris realized that the career she craved-to be an explorer, equal parts swashbuckler and…


Book cover of Mount Analogue: A Tale of Non-Euclidean and Symbolically Authentic Mountaineering Adventures

Why did I love this book?

This book is one of my all time favorite reads. Mount Analogue is a short poetic novel. Daumal’s rich descriptions and symbolism engaged my imagination and made me think deeply about the story’s meaning. The author takes readers on a journey to a mystical place with an unusual set of characters and strange circumstances. The story revolves around an adventurous sailing and climbing expedition to a mystical mountain hidden from the world’s inhabitants which is believed to link the earth to a higher sphere of reality. It’s full of intrigue and packed with pithy philosophical statements worth pondering. Daumal’s words and descriptions are so thought-provoking, that I used a quote from this book as the opening to my memoir, If I Live Until Morning.

By René Daumal,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mount Analogue as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This pataphysical journey up a mountain whose "summit must be inaccessible, but its base accessible to human beings" depicts an allegorical landscape akin to Alice in Wonderland

A beloved cult classic of surrealism, pataphysics and Gurdjieffian mysticism, René Daumal’s Mount Analogue is the allegorical tale of an expedition to a mountain whose existence can only be deduced, not observed. As its numerous editions (most now rare) over the decades attest, the book has been highly influential: Alejandro Jodorowsky's visionary 1973 film The Holy Mountain is a loose adaptation of the book, and John Zorn based an eponymous album on it.…


Endurance

By Alfred Lansing,

Book cover of Endurance

Why did I love this book?

I read this book after my near-fatal accident in the mountains. The story gave me perspective about enduring hardship. It also rekindled my own adventurous ambitions. This is a gripping tale about Ernest Shackleton’s expedition to the South Pole in the early 1900’s. Shackleton and his crew were trapped in sea ice before making a harrowing escape in their small lifeboats across frigid and turbulent seas to the shores of South Georgia Island. Later, he and a small group of men traversed glacier-covered mountains to get help at a remote whaling station. Shackleton’s feat of keeping his crew alive for months on end, with few supplies and in horrific conditions, is both an inspiration and a testimony to the leadership of a remarkable man. This timeless tale is a must-read for those who love adventure and history.

By Alfred Lansing,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Endurance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In August 1914, polar explorer Ernest Shackleton boarded the Endurance and set sail for Antarctica, where he planned to cross the last uncharted continent on foot. In January 1915, after battling its way through a thousand miles of pack ice and only a day's sail short of its destination, the Endurance became locked in an island of ice. Thus began the legendary ordeal of Shackleton and his crew of twenty-seven men. For ten months the ice-moored Endurance drifted northwest before it was finally crushed between two ice floes. With no options left, Shackleton and a skeleton crew attempted a near-impossible…


The Healing Power of Mind

By Tulku Thondup,

Book cover of The Healing Power of Mind

Why did I love this book?

I have given this book as a gift to friends and acquaintances who were struggling with health issues, trauma, depression, anxiety, or loss. Recipients of this book have told me how much it has benefited them—they found peace and renewed energy on their path of healing physical and emotional pain. It’s a short book packed with easy-to-practice meditations that are simple, yet profound. It is suitable for reader’s of all backgrounds and belief systems.

By Tulku Thondup,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Healing Power of Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The true nature of our minds is enlightened and peaceful, as the depth of the ocean is calm and clear. But when we mentally grasp and emotionally cling to our wants and worries with all our energy, we lose our own enlightened freedom and healing power, only to gain stress and exhaustion, suffering and overexcitement, like the turbulent waves rolling on the surface of the ocean.

Our minds possess the power to heal pain and stress, and to blossom into peace and joy, by loosening the clinging attitudes that Buddhists call "grasping at self." If we apply the mind's healing…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in meditation, Buddhism, and explorers?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about meditation, Buddhism, and explorers.

Meditation Explore 219 books about meditation
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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Maiden Voyage, and Dhammapada if you like this list.